In George W. Bush's America, the National Security Agency violated your privacy. In Barack Obama's America, privacy violates you.
Or, at the very least, it violates your right to know how many Americans the NSA has spied on under the auspices of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a law that provided immunity to telecom companies involved in NSA spying operations and gave the agency authorization to engage in warrantless wiretapping, rather than just friending Americans on Facebook, like normal stalkers.
It's no wonder the U.S. Government prefers to spy on English-speaking Americans, given all the translators we've dismissed from service during the years Don't Ask, Don't Tell was in effect. But the NSA's justification for refusing to disclose the extent of the spying is rather Orwellian…
That claim comes in a short letter sent Monday to civil libertarian Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. The two members of the Senate's intelligence oversight committee asked the NSA a simple question last month: under the broad powers granted in 2008′s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA?
The query bounced around the intelligence bureaucracy until it reached I. Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the nominal head of the 16 U.S. spy agencies. In a letter acquired by Danger Room, McCullough told the senators that the NSA inspector general "and NSA leadership agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons," McCullough wrote.
The more I think about, "We could tell you, but that would violate your privacy," is a pretty snappy come-back. It's almost as though they knew the question we were going to ask.
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: FISA, Senate, Spying